Daily Bread for 5.13.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of seventy-eight. Sunrise is 5:32 AM and sunset 8:09 PM, for 14h 36m 46s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 94% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Quick note: the next post in my Janesville series will be Sunday, May 14th (post 12 in the series).

On this day in 1918, the Lusk murder trial begins: “On this day Grace Lusk, a Waukesha high school teacher, began her trial for the murder of Mary Roberts. Prosecutors alleged a tragic love triangle had resulted in the murder after Lusk’s pleas for Roberts to give up her husband were rebuffed. The trial, a national sensation in the early days of mass media, resulted in a guilty verdict on May 29, 1918. Lusk was sentenced to 19 years in prison but served only five before being pardoned by the Governor. After her release she jealously guarded her privacy; the identity of her husband, known only as “Mr. Brown,” was never determined. [Source: Capital Times 5/13/1918, p.1]”

Recommended for reading in full —

Benjamin Mullins reports that Mother Jones is raising $500,000 to go after the Trump-Russia story:

To raise money for the project, which Mother Jones is calling “Trumpocracy: The Russia Connection,” the bimonthly magazine is trying to sign up at least 1,000 new sustaining donors at $15 per month. They’ve already lined up a $200,000 grant from The Glaser Progress Foundation, and the foundation is set to kick in an additional $50,000 once they reach their goal.

Mother Jones will use the money to hire fact-checkers, editors, researchers and staffers who will conduct legal reviews, said Monika Bauerlein, Mother Jones’ CEO. They’ve already lined up one investigative reporting heavy hitter for the team: Bill Buzenberg, the former executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, who will be writing a weekly newsletter on the story.

Mother Jones has been on this story since before the election. In October, Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn reported that a veteran spy had given the FBI information alleging a Russian operation to compromise Donald Trump. That story has since been matched by CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other outlets, Bauerlein said, and ballooned into a storyline that touches nearly every corner of D.C. politics.

(A description of their project is available online @ Now It’s About Much More Than Trump and Russia. Disclosure: I’m a donor to the project. One can make a one-time contribution or monthly contributions. Private investigative efforts will assure that significant questions are explored. Mother Jones, by the way, is named for Mary Harris “Mother” Jones.)

David A. Graham observes that If There Are White House Recordings, They Could Be Subpoenaed:

Maybe there are recordings from the Trump White House; maybe there aren’t. On the one hand, President Trump seemed to threaten the former FBI director in a tweet Friday morning, writing, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Later on Friday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly refused to comment on the tweet and whether or not tapes exist….

The first important fact about recordings is that if they did exist, post-Nixon, an administration would be required to preserve them as a public record, in accordance with the 1978 Presidential Records Act. The recordings would theoretically become subject to Freedom of Information requests five years after a president left office, though that can be staved off to as much as 12 years. The entire recordings wouldn’t necessarily become available, because there are carve-outs for personal information about the president’s life, as well as “political” activities. If recordings did exist, it would be a crime to destroy them.

(It’s worth noting, relatedly, that Trump has a long history of secretly recording calls, according to former associates.)

Peter Whoriskey writes that The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t:

A shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans sailed late last year from Ukraine to Turkey to California. Along the way, it underwent a remarkable transformation.

The cargo began as ordinary soybeans, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Like ordinary soybeans, they were fumigated with a pesticide. They were priced like ordinary soybeans, too.

But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them to Stockton, Calif., arrived in December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch — the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation — boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain.

Jim Robbins reports that a Rare White Wolf Killed in Yellowstone Park Was Shot Illegally:

             Photo: Courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

A rare white female wolf that hikers found as she lay dying last month on the north side of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming was shot illegally, officials have determined.

The wolf had to be euthanized by park officials because of the severity of her wound.

She was the only white wolf living in the park, though there had been two others before her. She was 12 years old when she was killed, twice the average age of wolves in Yellowstone.

Great Big Story tells of Barn Owls: The Secret Saviors of Napa Valley’s Vineyards:

Barn Owls: The Secret Saviors of Napa Valley’s Vineyards from Great Big Story on Vimeo.